Blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Right? Boys are all slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails and girls full of sugar and spice.
But how early do you and your children have to choose their gender stereotype and if you mess with the ‘norm’ are you messing with your child’s future?
Last week I went to the shops buy plasters (or band-aids).
They were for my three-year-old son who, in reality, doesn’t have a scratch on him but has a vague obsession with all things medical.
As we reached the supermarket aisle we faced a choice.
Blue plasters with robots on them?
Or pink plasters with butterflies?
I asked my son, ‘Which ones do you want? Blue or pink?’
‘Pink.’ He replied with absolute toddler confidence.
As I took them from the shelf I heard a brusque voice behind me.
‘You can’t get the boy bloody pink Band-Aids! You’ll turn him gay.’
I turned to see a man in his late 40s, semi-normal looking, his face a mask of outrage and confusion.
How should I reply?
I could have told him about the contrary association of pink with boys in 20th-century America.
Or I could have quoted the article in the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department from June 1918, which said:
“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
But instead, lost for a clever retort, I simply responded with: ‘Good.’
Then grabbed my son’s hand and headed for the checkout.
I mean – seriously?
I am firmly in the ‘nature NOT nurture’ camp when it comes to homosexuality. I believe your sexuality is innate, not something you pick up on the way, like a taste or distaste for Vegemite.
But as my son gets older I’m realising that an awful lot of people disagree.
Dress your boy in bright colours, let his hair grow a little long, allow him to play with a doll or let him watch ‘Angelina Ballerina’ and you will most certainly be judged.
It’s even worse when it comes to activities.
My son loves to dance so I found a local dance class called ‘Jelly Jazzers’ where the kids basically jump around like cocaine-fuelled monkeys to an assortment of foul Europop. I knew my son would love it.
But since it was on a Thursday, when I work, I asked my husband to take him.
My son was the only boy.
My husband was the only dad.
The girls all had pink tutus.
When my husband asked why, the teacher told him that lots of parents consider dancing to be a girls-only pastime.
It makes no sense to me.
Haven’t they seen the moves on Usher?
When a boy becomes a man, don’t we associate his cool dance moves with a certain prowess under the sheets?
Aren’t some of the world’s best dancers men?
None of it matters. No dads brought their sons and eventually even my ultra-liberal husband got turned off.
My son also goes to Little Kickers (football for small kids): the class includes 18 boys and one girl. All the parents compliment the parents of said girl on how cool it is that she’s playing football.
So while girls doing ‘boy things’ at a young age is cute, the folk around my way seem to think that boys doing ‘girl things’ is a recipe for homosexuality.
Then there’s the make-up.
My son also likes to try a bit of make-up now and again. I told another parent this and they told me in no uncertain terms that I should ‘nip it in the bud’. Really? Some of my favourite male actors, musicians and pop stars slather themselves in make-up. Many metrosexual pals of mine are known to use a touch of concealer.
And anyway, what the fuck? HE IS THREE!! Can’t the poor kid just be a kid, experiment and be happy?
And even if all of them are right, even if I’m setting my son on a path of absolute gayness – is that such a bad thing?
I won’t care either way if my son is heterosexual or homosexual. I’ll just be delighted that he grows up happy and healthy and loved.
Do you agree with gender stereotyping? Do you dress your girl in pink-only outfits? Do you think boys should be encouraged to play certain games? Let me know.